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Kimberlyn Leary
Senior Vice President, Research Management and Program Development
  • Profile
  • Outside Affiliations
  • Learning, collaborative inquiry, and inclusive leadership have formed the cornerstones of my professional career. Working closely with people whose lives intersected with intervening public systems enabled me to have a deep, empathic, and granular experience with public policy as it meets the lives of individuals and families. At a time of unprecedented urgency in our nation, I believe that Urban Institute’s commitment to evidence-based research and solution-finding is essential to create and then sustain just, equitable, safe, and healthy communities.

    Kimberlyn Leary is a senior vice president at the Urban Institute, managing research and program development. Previously, as an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and as an associate professor in the department of health policy and management at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she directed the Enabling Change program for the doctor of public health program. Leary was also executive director of the Center of Excellence in Women’s Mental Health at McLean Hospital, an HMS teaching affiliate. Before that, she served for 12 years as chief psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, also an HMS teaching affiliate. She started her career on the faculty of the University of Michigan.

    Leary served as an adviser to the White House during the Obama and Biden administrations. On IPA from Harvard, she served as a senior policy advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. As a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow, she helped launch the Advancing Equity initiative for the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls. Leary served on the Biden-Harris transition as a volunteer part-time member of the agency review team for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. As an IPA from Urban, Leary served as an inaugural senior equity fellow at the Biden Office of Management Budget and as senior adviser to the Domestic Policy Council supporting implementation of the president’s first executive order on equity.

    Leary writes, consults, and teaches on adaptive leadership, leading teams, cross-boundary collaboration, negotiation, and racial equity. She holds an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, and she completed advanced training as a clinical psychoanalyst at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Association.

    Research Areas
    Crime, justice, and safety
    Health and health care
    Nonprofits and philanthropy
    Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
    Children and youth
    Race and equity
    Racial equity in education
    Racial inequities in health

    Outside Affiliations
    Folger Shakespeare Library; Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls; Boston Psychoanalytic Institute; Austen Riggs Center
    Advisory Boards
    Pivotal Upswing Fund; MacArthur Foundation 100&Change; Connected Health; Lever for Change; University of Texas Prison and Jail Innovation Lab; Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative
    Faculty Appointments
    Harvard Medical School; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Boston Psychoanalytic Institute
    New America; Harvard Bloomberg Center for Cities

    Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.